King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture

Unique facade made of doubly curved stainless steel tubes supported by titanium brackets
Saudi Aramco Oil Company
Fassadenbau: seele
©2016 Saudi Aramco/Snøhetta/seele

The King Abdulaziz Center for Knowledge is a center of world culture dedicated to King Abdulaziz at the initiative of the oil company Saudi Aramco. It is located in the desert at the heart of the Arabian oil fields close to the coast. Its shape looks like five pebble stones up to 90 m above the ground. The major part of the enclosed space, however, is hidden underground. The sculptured shape of the metal facade is made up of 5.5 m long stainless steel tubes curved in two axes with a total length of approx. 350 km. The substructure forms an opaque element facade of two floor high segments. The stainless steel tubes are held in place by specially developed fixtures made of titanium. This material has higher strength with half the rigidity compared to steel, significantly reducing the stress on the substructure from forced loads, e.g. due to fluctuations in temperature. Thus, for example with regard to the effect of sand on mechanical bearings, moving fixtures can be avoided. Furthermore, titanium is corrosion-resistant to condensation and salts from the sand on the site.